How to Use Optimism to Attain Goals

There is a value to being optimistic when it comes to attaining your goals. Pessimists pay for their negativity by making it more complicated—and less likely—to reach their goals in large part because their beliefs make it more difficult. Your ideas drive your actions, and your actions produce your results. If you believe this is true, starting with an optimistic attitude is step one of attaining your goals.

There Will Be Problems and Challenges

Optimists don’t believe that they are not going to experience problems and challenges as they pursue their goals. They expect to struggle with the same issues and challenges of the pessimist, but they do so believing that any obstacle can be overcome. There is a specific variety of pessimist that tries to present themselves as a “realist.”

The realist is a pessimist who wants to appear otherwise. There is no such thing as a “realist.” You either believe there are problems and challenges, and you will overcome them, or you believe that there are problems and challenges that will prevent you from reaching your goal.

Optimism is positive, future-oriented, and empowered. These characteristics are what allows them to persist in the face of obstacles, holding firm to their belief they can overcome any barriers.

There is a Way Forward

There is always a way forward. Those with an empowered mindset believe there is a way that they will find it, and they will move towards what they want. The pessimist believes there is no way forward, and even there was, it would be too difficult. The belief that there is a way forward allows the optimist to continue to act, even when things are complicated, and even when there is little noticeable progress. It’s their optimistic outlook that will enable them to persist, to keep pushing forward, to keep trying, never giving up.

Were the optimist to believe there was no possibility of success, they would quit. But the optimist doesn’t stop because doing so would go against their nature. When things are dark, optimism provides a source of light.

Failure Is Not Me

Optimists don’t hold negative beliefs about themselves. They don’t believe the root cause of any fault they experience as they pursue their goals is because they have some fatal flaw that prevents success. They’re comfortable failing, adjusting their approach, and trying again. In short, deficiency doesn’t make one a failure; it’s merely an event. Both the optimist and the pessimist are identities. The optimist refuses the idea that any failure is the result of some fatal flaw that defines them.

Those with harbor pessimistic beliefs believe that any failure says something about them personally, that they aren’t good enough, that they lack something, that the failure in some way defines them. One of the most empowering beliefs you might choose for yourself is that your failure does not define you and that you have no flaw that will prevent you from goal attainment.

Failure is Not Permanent

Of all the questions B2B salespeople routinely ask me, the most frequent is, “When do you give up on your dream client?” Their frustration is caused by a prospective client refusing to agree to a meeting enough times that they want to move on; they see the situation as permanent.

Optimism requires that one believe that any failure is temporary, that it isn’t permanent, and that over time, they will achieve a different—and better—outcome. It’s the belief that the present result isn’t lasting, that it will be different in the future that undergirds the optimist’s continued attempts to succeed.

Failure is feedback

There are many ways to interpret a failure. You can choose to believe it is your identity, or that something is impossible, or that anyone who is achieving some outcome you desire, that their success is due to some advantage they have that you lack. This is how the cynical, skeptical, and pessimistic person frames failing.

People with a positive belief system see failure as feedback. When something doesn’t work out, they want it to, and they don’t give up. Instead, they look for lessons. Failing provides you with insights about what didn’t work, why it didn’t work, and what you might do differently. Those with a positive view of things empower themselves to put the feedback to work, improving their next attempt.

I Will Succeed, Eventually

If there is a defining belief of the optimist, it is that they will eventually succeed. The notion that you will succeed in the future is what sanctions the second, third, and forty-third attempt. The best guarantee that you won’t achieve your goals is to believe that they are impossible to achieve and attempt them half-heartedly.

Even if you don’t succeed, you will learn something that improves your next attempt. The optimist pursues their goals on a longer timeline than the pessimist. The ability to decide what you want in the future, hold the vision in your mind, delay gratification, and consistently act under your goals will lead to success, even if it takes time.

Adversity is Growth

The pessimist sees trouble as something negative as something to be avoided. Those who reach their goals see difficulty as the opportunity for growth. The magic of big goals is that pursuing them requires you to grow.

Adversity is something to push against, and in exerting yourself in pursuit of what you want, you become stronger, and it allows you to make the kind of distinctions that improve your results. Your positive vision and mindset don’t perceive adversity as something negative. Instead, it expects difficulty and frames it as an opportunity for the growth necessary to reach their goals.

Progress Over Perfection

Positive, future-oriented, and empowered people look for progress over perfection. Progress is movement in the right direction, and it sustains the optimistic person. Even then, they spend long periods on the plateau, making little to no discernible improvement.

Those who are negative go from one thing to the next, never reaching their goal because they are unwilling to accept progress, seeking an immediate result. When the result isn’t quickly produced, they change their goals, adjust the vehicle they were using to pursue their goals, and start over again, only to repeat the pattern forever.

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